Faith and Obedience Must go Hand in Hand

We pray because prayer changes us.

I grew up in a home where we practiced prayer. I can recall visiting my grandparents and reciting this prayer, “Come Lord Jesus, be our Guest. And let this food to us be blessed. Amen.” It was what we did. It was our family ritual. We said grace before our meals and before our bedtime.

However, I believe there is much more to prayer than what is sandwiched between “Dear God” and “Amen.” Over the years I have discovered that prayer is much more than making a list of demands to get what I want. It is much more than a therapy session. It is much more than asking God to perform, and then feeling disappointed when He doesn’t answer. I’ve learned over the years that there is more to prayer.

Prayer is not to get what I want out of God, prayer is to get what God wants inside of me.

Broadly speaking, prayer is “asking God to be glorified in the midst of our needs.” In the midst of our sin. In the midst of our difficult circumstances. In the midst of our good things; the things we are thankful for.

Prayer is opening up our lives to complete, utter dependence on an invisible God, acknowledging who He is and what He has done.

It is not limited to Sundays or a certain day of the week. It is not restricted to a schedule or timeline. It is not exclusive for pastors or elders. It is not limited to a memorized list of words.

Prayer is an act of surrendering our lives to God and being present to do His will. Anywhere. Any time. I’ve heard prayer described as “spoken faith.” It takes faith to pray. Otherwise, we are simply saying words blindly in the dark. We become no different than those who hopefully wish things will go their way. Without faith, we are no different than those who believe in the stars or good luck charms or genies in a bottle. Faith is what makes our prayers different from the prayers of other religions or do-gooders.  According to Mark 11:22, we have faith in God. God is the focal point of prayer. We pray so our will WILL align with God, our Heavenly Father. Faith is an essential ingredient. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT).

It is faith that propels our prayers.

Our faith grows as we begin to experience God. When we hear God speak, our faith takes root. Romans 10:17 reminds us, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” But it doesn’t stop here…there is more to it than simply hearing the Word of God. There is a required response on our part. We must obey. Obedience is “faith in action.”

Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” What did Abraham do by faith? He obeyed. And we too must obey. We pray. We listen. We obey.

Why is prayer so necessary? Because the act of surrendering to God does not come easily or readily. Our flesh fights the will of God. We do not want to admit that we are broken, messy, needy people. There is a war raging inside of us bellowing loudly, “I’m good. I can figure life out on my own. I don’t need God.”

But it is through prayer that God is reproducing His heart in us. It is through prayer that we come to a deeper, richer understanding of who God is. It is through prayer we realize that our dependence is on God and God alone.

We pray because prayer changes us.

Sue Allen

Leave your comments on our Facebook page

And read more from Sue at: https://sueaallen.com/

Are You Praising Her?

Are You Praising Her?

“Her children praise her…” –Proverbs 31:28 (CEV).

Even though I have a multitude of conveniences most of us consider necessities, I occasionally enjoy washing dishes by hand. I didn’t buy my first dishwasher until my second son was born in 1981.

My generation was raised to believe women did all the housework. Times have changed. My generation had mothers who were stay-at-home moms. Most of us came home from school to homemade snacks followed by a made-from-scratch dinner.

My mother seldom bought store-bought cookies, and although T.V. dinners debuted the year I was born, they weren’t a regular staple on our kitchen table. Pre-made or convenience meals were almost unheard of during that time. Eating out was a luxury and fast food was a rare treat.

Because dishwashers weren’t commonplace in households until the 1970s, my sister and I learned to wash and dry dishes without the advantage of a machine. I can recall our mother inspecting the dishes to make sure we had properly cleaned all food residues from the interior and exterior of each one. If we overlooked any remnants, she would promptly return the dish to the sink for another scouring.

While I’m sure my sister and I didn’t appreciate it at the time, my mother’s desire to teach us to do a good job and take pride in whatever we did carried over to other areas of our lives. Instilling responsibility in her daughters meant we completed a list of chores posted on the refrigerator every Saturday morning before we went out to play.

Even though we didn’t have the conveniences now taken for granted, I think life was much simpler back then. The days of hand washing and drying dishes, preparing healthy food at home and hanging clothes on an outdoor line to dry had some benefits.

I contemplated this recently as I washed and dried a sink piled high with dirty dishes. I hadn’t started my full dishwasher yet. Busy with activities that had kept me on the run, I knew my mother, if she were alive, would have lectured me about the mess. However, I found solace in the simple task of putting my hands in the soapy water, scrubbing and rubbing until each dish and piece of silverware was clean.

Another word for solace is peace. After hectic days of rushing from one activity to another, I found comfort in a simple task requiring no thought, no conversation and no planning.

During that peace-filled time, my thoughts turned to my Creator who knit me together in my mother’s womb. Letting His peace settle around me like a blanket of love, I thanked Him for a mother who taught me the value of responsibility and doing my best.

After my mother died in July 2004, my sister and I discussed those things she had taught us. More than a homemaker who cooked from scratch and made all of our clothes, she taught us organizational skills and instilled in us a work ethic remaining today.

My mother also modeled compassion. Whether it was home-baked food or a kind word, she reached out to others in need. She instilled in her daughters a legacy that only love can buy.

As Mother’s Day approaches, consider the following anonymous quote: “No gift to your mother can ever equal her gift to you—life.”

Are you praising her?

Carol Round

Check out the author’s website at www.carolaround.com.

Leave your comments for us on our Facebook page.

 

When to Say Thanks

Say Thanks

My friend Rachael is getting married this year. She was my wedding planner extraordinaire, and I am attempting to return the favor this year as I plan hers.

Although Robby and I were married just six years ago, I had already forgotten how many details go into a wedding.

No Thanks!

One of those details that many brides forget about is the thank-you cards.

I never knew this was an issue until after our wedding. As soon as we got back from the honeymoon, I started writing thank you notes to all our friends and family members who supported us in one way or another, whether they threw us a party, donated to the honeymoon fund, or gave us a traditional gift. We took great care to let everyone know how much we appreciated them.

Then, we started to hear it.

I can’t believe you actually sent me a thank-you card! I haven’t received one of these in years!

 I just can’t thank you enough for my thank-you card! I thought proper etiquette was dead.

I was flabbergasted! I had no idea that people were actually foregoing this most basic of common courtesies.

The Faux Pas

Reputable wedding sites (such as Brides.com) still dictate that thank-you cards be handwritten and mailed within three months of the wedding (or within two weeks for engagement and bridal shower gifts). Yet an online search will prove that there is a pervasive trend of thanklessness. It’s so bad that jilted guests are threatening to stop bestowing gifts because no one seems to appreciate them.

Some speculate this might be an issue today because young couples feel a lavish reception is thanks enough for those who attended the wedding or gave them gifts. Well, it’s not. We want our thank-you cards!

The Responsibility

Now, the man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the CEO of Hospitality. It’s ultimately our responsibility to keep up with social etiquette, from ensuring the thank-you cards get mailed to stocking toilet paper in the guest bathroom. Guys just don’t think of this stuff.

It’s true that social norms change with the times. However, if you want to keep your friends and earn the respect of your new family (especially your mother-in-law), you’re going to have to write those thank-you cards.

The Heart Behind It

As Christians, everything we do is important because we’re representatives of God’s kingdom. Paul even wrote that we should perform all our work “heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:22-24 NAS).

Thankfulness, in particular, is something we should be ready to share because it’s rooted in love. Not only does love come from God, but Jesus commanded that we love one another as He loved us. Why? “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 NAS).

An Attitude of Gratitude

I’m so proud of my friend Rachael. She’s already purchased her thank-you cards, and she’s included the cost of stamps in her budget. Rachael is prepared to show her appreciation.

If you’re planning to get married soon, I encourage you to approach the thank-you list with an attitude of gratitude. Thank the Lord for your family and friends; thank Him for blessing you with a beautiful wedding, a great husband, and a new life together; thank Him for all the goodies that now fill your home. Then let that spirit of thankfulness overflow as you write to those who cared enough to support you. Your guests will thank you.

“I thank my God always concerning you…” (1 Corinthians 1:4a NAS).

Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Leave your comments for Ashley on our Facebook page

 

 

*image by Lindsay Osborne.

 

 

“M” is For…

In an effort to be fully transparent, I must admit that I am struggling to find the words to share with you today.  I have been sitting with my computer for the last two hours, moving from location to location around my home, in hopes that a change of scenery will bring fresh inspiration to mind and breathe new life into my fingers.  Unfortunately, the only thing that the move from the couch to the table to the bed to the other table and back to the chair has brought me is more frustration and even less inspiration!

If you know me at all, you know the one thing I am never short on is words! However, there is a first for everything… I guess.  But, maybe today, instead of sharing with you a thousand or two, carefully crafted words of mine, maybe you are like me and maybe today, just one word will suffice.

It is more than just a word, it is a name. A name that carries with it so many meanings and personifies the words Love, Strength, Selflessness, Encouragement, Sacrifice, Giving, & Grace (to just name a few).  This name evokes deep emotions that sometimes words fail to sufficiently capture and sometimes the mere attempt is in vain.  This name has very few letters and is simple to say; yet, nothing about the responsibilities, privileges, joys or sorrows that come along with this title are easy.  The journey associated with this name carries with it volumes of sacred moments; Mt. Kilimanjaro highs and personal hell lows, that stir your soul, crush your heart, delight your mind, infuse your heart with an indescribable joy and will challenge you in ways that you could never imagine possible.

Have you been able to guess the one word…the name…the title…?

Today, that one special word for me is MOM.

I humbly come to you today with few words, no real wisdom or necessary life application.  Rather, I approach you today with a simple invitation and a very personal prayer request.  On January 26, 2014 at the young and vibrant age of 57, my Mom was diagnosed with one of the deadliest and most aggressive forms of brain cancer called a Glioblastoma brain tumor. Our world changed in an instant.  From the very beginning we had a choice; to live each day, fight like our lives depended on it (and they literally did) and not let “cancer” define our story or we could cower down in fear and merely just survive for whatever time remained.

As a family, we chose life in Christ.

We chose moments over minutes, we chose to live, not merely just survive.  We chose love over fear, purpose over pain.  We chose HOPE over despair and we chose to put our faith in the Lord, who is the Author and the Perfector of our life and faith.  We were not going to be defined by the medical statistics.  We were going to run the race set before us with HOPE, purpose and endurance.

Forty months later, by the miraculous healing and grace of our Lord and Savior, my Mom is still able to be my mom and Nannie to my two children.

In honor of Mother’s Day and National Brain Tumor Awareness Month, would you join me in praying for my Mom, Debbie, and all of the other mothers out there who are either personally battling brain cancer or who is caregiver to someone fighting this monster disease.  As a daughter, mother and caregiver myself, I can personally attest to the power and saving grace of prayer.  I cannot think of a better way to honor and celebrate the special women in your life this Mother’s Day than with a commitment to fervently lifting them up to our Lord in daily prayer.

Instead of spending dollars on the perfect store bought gift, spend your time creating moments with the women you love.  Rather than picking out the most eloquently written Hallmark card on the shelves, pick up a piece of paper and something to write with and pen the words of your own heart and echoes of your soul. Give the gift of prayer, time, encouragement, affirmation and love this month and make this Mother’s Day a treasured moment in your life legacy and those of the women you love.

LeRyiah Arant

Leave your comments for LeRyiah on our Facebook page

Does God’s Goodness Always Feel Good?

I want the goodness of God to always feel good, but is this realistic?

I want the goodness of God to always feel good, but is this realistic?

When loss is the uninvited guest of our home, we feel something about it. The loss seems to invite feelings of grief, mourning, aching that crush the core of the one living in the loss. It seems to be in these times we ache for answers to help us understand the purpose of the pain. “How can God be good when this is so painful?”, we say aloud or keep it tucked away in the secret parts of our heart so no one knows you are questioning the goodness of God.

God created us to have feelings and it doesn’t make us weak to express them. We hurt so we cry. We are excited so we laugh. We are happy so we smile. We are tired so we sleep (or are grumpy all day… if you’re anything like me). We are stressed so we drink wine. We lose a loved one so we grieve.

Yet when feelings become the dictator of our life, we can quickly lose heart. How do you respond when met with all of these feelings? Do you cast your cares on the Lord (Psalm 55:22 NIV)? Do you trust the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5 NIV)? Do you let God’s love drive out your fear (1 John 4:18)? How you respond in the face of your feelings can be the regluing or undoing of you.

God’s goodness does not always feel good. The book of Job clearly exposes this reality. I wonder how many people walk around feeling wounded by God because they have allowed their feelings to be the dictator of their life.

Ten years ago, I would have confidently exclaimed God’s goodness and it would have felt good to say. I would even provide you with evidence of his goodness in my life, but the reality is this evidence was based on circumstances that felt good. My feelings dictated my belief about God’s goodness.

On June 24, 2011, my feelings became the most unreliable source of truth for me. I was met with the devastation that would forever change how I did
life with the Lord. What appeared to be evidence of God’s abandonment was just the beginning of the stripping of a belief system that was faulty. He was soon going to cloth me with one that was true from the source of truth, my Jesus.

God’s goodness has not always felt good but, I can firmly say, He has always worked the pain for my good. It has been the saving of my soul that has been worth it all. With an aching in my gut and a tears welling in my eyes, I can testify that He has been worth it. It’s been through the tragedies- that resulted from June 24- I have been gifted with some of the most intimate times with God, in turn deepening my faith.

Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) This Scripture does not say, “And we know that all things are good for us.” We can trust that He is going to work all things for our good even when it is not good for us.

Death is not good for us! Dear one, if death was good for us there would be no need for Jesus to come and die and be resurrected to save us from death. He died on that cross because death is not good for us. Death is terrible and excruciatingly painful and not what God intended when he created this world (Genesis 1-3 NIV). If you are walking the road of losing a loved one, lean into Jesus. He knows this is not what is good for you but he will work it for your good. Abide in Him and you will produce lasting fruit and much of it, even though you feel as if you might die from grief (John 15).

If you are walking alongside someone who is grieving, will you share this truth with them? This may be the breath of fresh air they are longing for. This may be their break from the idealism of the well meaning that is suffocating them. They just may need someone to come and sit with them and say, “this is terrible”. Your friend can be in excruciating pain and still trust God is going to work this out for her good. I’m so grateful for the testimony of Katherine and Jay Wolf in their book Hope Heals,

No amount of catharsis or perspective finding will change the fact that our situation is terribly sad and deeply broken. I can give God the glory, and it can still hurt. I used to cry myself to sleep every night. But I have learned, above all other lessons, that healing for each person is spiritual.
We will be fully restored in heaven, but we are actually healed on earth right now. My experience has caused me to redefine healing and to discover a hope that heals the most broken places: our souls (page 18).

Are you struggling because you desperately want God’s goodness to always feel good?

I did too.

It feels like a crushing blow when this truth is met with your inescapable reality that life- no matter how many years pass, new life that grows, exciting experiences that arise- is now filtered through the lens of loss. But this is where hope comes in, dear one. We can look forward with the hope that someday God’s goodness will always feel good because all will be made right (Revelation 21 NIV). As you wait expectantly for that day, you can experience healing of the most broken place right now: your soul.

Maria Bowersock

If this post resonated with you, journey over to Newness through the Pain.

Leave your comments for Maria on our Facebook page

 

For the Record, Please Include an Upbeat Hymn

I have never been involved in a group-funeral-planning-session with the person whose funeral was being planned. Until that day.

I have never been involved in a group-funeral-planning-session with the person whose funeral was being planned. Until that day.

There I was, seated in a cozy living room…the kind of room where you actually have uninterrupted visits and maybe even engage in profound conversations of life-changing proportions, because there is no television to act as the central attraction, or to detract from what the actual central feature should be in living rooms: people.

I listened mostly, because that is my nature. When it comes to spoken conversation, I have always taken time to process the previous dialogue and reply with measured responses. And this was one of those days when more listening than talking on my part seemed appropriate.

Questions were asked about what main message she wanted preached, which scriptures she wanted shared, and which songs she desired to be sung.

“She” was my aunt. A woman dearly loved by her family and friends. A woman who was admired and adored by all she encountered.

She was clear about wanting the message of having a relationship with Jesus Christ and allowing God to be in charge of judging others, not us, to be at the core of the pastor’s sermon. The scripture she chose coordinated with that message well. And after the funeral, there was agreement that her wishes had been carried out in a way that honored the life she lived and her God.

The music she chose was comforting and touching. During the planning, a question of whether one of the songs was too upbeat was voiced. She is the one who raised that question if I remember correctly. The consensus was that a funeral of someone who served God and was looking forward to spending eternity with Him is a perfect setting for a triumphant, upbeat song to be sung.

I know that expected funeral decorum is that of reverence and respect, but I believe funerals are an opportune time for reminding the living of what our eternal future holds as well. If we accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and relationship, our eternal future will certainly be a place of victory and celebration. Upbeat songs work well in that capacity.

I have a God who loves me beyond description in spite of my doubts, my sin, and my anxiety problem that turns me into a complete mess from time to time. He loves you beyond description too. He sees the potential in us. He placed it there. When we accept Him as our savior, new life in us begins, because His love compels us to want to become more like Him. When my time here is nearing an end, if I am able to be a part of planning the funeral, that is the message I will want communicated to those who gather to remember me. My aunt felt this message was something to sing about. I wholeheartedly agree.

For the record, please include an upbeat song at my funeral.

Gwen Thielges

Read more from Gwen at: gwenthielges.com

Leave your comments on our Facebook Page

 

Ready For Some Character Development?

Who is building my character?

Have you ever become interested in a television series after it has already aired for a season or two? And have you then gone back to see the earlier seasons and noticed how different some of the characters seem?

I recently stumbled on an old episode of the television series J.A.G. which originally introduced the NCIS character Abby.  I mention this because I was fascinated to see how much Abby has changed since this introductory episode.  Even if you are not a fan of the show, hang in here with me for a few minutes.

In this original episode she is almost normal, leaning towards Goth, fairly calm, happy, savvy, and sarcastic. She dresses in dark clothes, wears a large necklace, and listens to music while working in her lab. In current episodes of NCIS, Abby is Goth, hyperactive, happy, gullible, and trusts virtually no one outside the immediate team. She dresses primarily in black, wears a spiked dog collar and bracelet, and listens to extremely loud heavy metal music.

What happened? Character development. The scriptwriters wanted to more clearly define this character, so over time Abby changed. Episode by episode, season by season, the actress, the writers, and the directors built her character.

It makes me wonder –

Am I any different today than I was two years ago?

Who is building my character?

2 Peter 1:5-8  is all about character building. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   When I look back even a few months I can see the difference in myself.  Day by day, step by step, season by season, I am making every effort to allow the Lord to use His Word and the situations in my life to change and build my character.

Pauly Perrette, the actress playing Abby, could have resisted efforts to change her character and remained the cute but rather dull person in that original episode.  But instead she embraced the challenges of each new script and quickly became a pillar of the show.

I do not want to resist the work God is trying to do on my character. I don’t want to stay the same, I long to grow! I want to be more knowledgeable, more persevering, more loving today than I was yesterday. And it will take new situations and trials to bring that out in me. As well as time spent in His Word. So I choose to embrace the challenge.

What about you? Care to join me in some productive character development?

Shellynne Wucher

Read more from Shellynne at: light4mysteps.wordpress.com

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

The First Fantastic Four

followers

“Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” Matthew 4:21

Long before Stan Lee, the comic book craze, and the Big Screen, Jesus called four fishermen. Two sets of brothers to be exact. They weren’t kings, presidents, politicians, attorneys, or priest. They were ordinary men who made their living breaking their backs, as they cleaned their nets.

Peter, his brother Andrew, James whose father was Zebedee and his brother John, were casting those nets into the Sea of Galilee. Jesus found them and gave His one-line elevator pitch: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Matthew singled out the four, and we don’t know why.

Maybe, just maybe, there is a reason. Jesus began His ministry at Galilee, these men were the first four called, and they lived in Galilee, but is there more to it than that?

I think there is. Let me suggest two thoughts:

  1. The CALL of the one line pitch is to Follow Him. That’s universal. From Salvation through Sanctification WE are called to follow. We are NOT leaders we are followers. Somewhere we have mistranslated the call.

Today much more emphasis is placed on leaders than followers. We want followers on Twitter. We want friends on Facebook. But that shouldn’t mean the at we are leaders because we have followers. We are all called to be followers with Jesus as our leader.

  1. Be Fishers of Men. This phrase meant something to them because they were fishermen. They got it. Jesus didn’t use this phrase for Matthew the Tax Collector. It simply means you will help gather more followers (fish) for Me.

This has to with evangelism, but it also means to make disciples. Not every Christian is a great soul winner. However, as Christians use their gifts, soul-winning and discipleship are accomplished through the local church.

These first fantastic four and the rest of the twelve are listed in Matthew 10:2-4. They were commissioned and sent out. They didn’t possess special power before they were called, but they received special power from the One who called them.

Every Christian has been given that power. Are you using it?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

5 Ways to Wreck Fear

Fear has left its mark on me.

Fear has left its mark on me.

It was how I did life. Most of my decisions were based on fear—not fear of God— but fear of everything. Will anyone be upset if I do this? Will so-and-so be mad at me if I do that? What will my neighbors/friends/relatives think if I do this? Worse yet, what will THEY think? THEY is a very powerful group. THEY have been making life miserable for the rest of us for many years. We need to vote THEY out of power. Why? Because THEY will  keep us from following HIM.

Peter did it.

He finally beat THEY and took back his power.

I’ve been thinking about Peter.

How did he go from a three-Pete denier to the man who stood and preached like his heart was a-fire? Poured-out, filled-up, all-in man of God. I want that.

Let’s look at what happened to Peter in the book of Acts.

Jesus and Peter are having a conversation. Peter declares he is ready to go the mat for Jesus, but Jesus knows better.

31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me. […]

58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22

Peter was all talk and no walk. He couldn’t deliver. I have been Peter—fired up at the conference and fast burn on the drive home. But, Peter changed.

How did it happen? How did God wreck fear?

Let’s look at God’s Peter Transformation Plan: From Fearful to Fearless

  1. Spend time weeping. Go back and read Acts 3:62. Just admit it and be done with it. Tell God you have failed, and you need Him to break your heart and put it back together again so it beats only for Him. Ask Him to do whatever it takes so you will fear only Him.
  2. Spend time with Jesus. A lot of time. Peter spent 3 years doing daily life with Jesus. How many hours do we spend each day with Jesus? Perhaps the more accurate question is, How many minutes do we spend each day with Jesus?  If you are serious about change, you’ll be spending serious time with Jesus. Luke 5:11
  3. Spend time in prayer. In the time between the Ascension and Pentecost, Peter and the rest of Jesus’ disciples spent their time in the Upper Room in prayer. God used extended prayer to change Peter’s heart. Acts 1:14, Acts 4:31
  4. Spend time in fellowship.  Peter did not become fearless by hunkering down by himself in his house.  Effective outspoken Christians are not loners. We need others to encourage, confront and hold us accountable as we walk with Jesus. Acts 1:14, Acts 4:31
  5. Spend time in Scripture. Start at Acts 2:14 and read Peter’s speech to the crowd. How did he know what to say? Hours in the word of God. An Acts 2:14 kind of witness requires time, effort, perseverance and faith.

I have added one more element to this list: fasting. For this Lenten season, I have given up my favorite: Jason’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Yep. It hurts. But God honors my sacrifice. By the way, I don’t expect to not ever feel fear again. I want to act in faith despite the fear. That’s what I’m talking about.

There we have it. The perfect recipe to wreck fear: prayer, repentance, scripture, fellowship and Jesus. Join me on this journey to wreck fear. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Leave me a comment on our Facebook page about your journey of faith. I’d love to chat with you.

Mary Kane

Read more from Mary at: onlybyprayer.com

all rights reserved. copyright 2017

Start Living For God Today

We should stop pretending to love Jesus while inwardly craving other desires.

If God really is who He says He is and heaven and hell actually exist, would you live any differently? Would any of your priorities get rearranged? Would you start seeing this world from a different lens? Would you tell others about Jesus…instead of hemming and hawing around? I often contemplate such questions as I struggle to pull myself from my comfortable, safe, little world.

We should stop pretending to love Jesus while inwardly craving other desires.

Religion apart from God is dead; it is merely an effort to clean our outer shell. Possibly without realization, we are trying to make ourselves look good and fit in with the crowd. Possibly without personal reckoning, we are hoping to feel good about who we are.

God sees through the superfluous and cuts right through to our heart. He is not concerned about fancy new toys or the Who’s Who List of your city.

God is after you.

During the time of Jesus, there were some superficial believers…their names are the Pharisees and Sadducees. They spent their time combating Jesus and playing games as “Goody Two Shoers.” They thought they had all the right answers, convincingly laying down arguments. Jesus sees right through their camaraderie and points out their issue with pride.

This sect of the Jews seemingly were seeking after God, but in reality were self-seeking. They didn’t see their problem with sin, and likewise, didn’t admit their need for a Savior. They thought they knew God because they could rattle off facts. They were full to the brim with head knowledge. We must be careful not to fall

We must be careful not to fall into the same trap…God wants to transform us completely.

A stern warning is given to those who dilly-dally with God. Those who talk the talk, but don’t come close to walking the walk. Those who say they love God, but their lives don’t come close to showing it. In Isaiah 29:13, God says, “This people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me.”

Church, I think it is time for us to stop pretending.

And church, I think it is time for us to really know God.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

Abraham was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:21

To live a surrendered life requires obedience.

To live by faith and fixate our eyes on the heavenly realm requires prayer.  To live this way, I must ___________________________ (fill in the blank). Ask yourself, are you willing to pray, “Father, glorify your name” (John 12:28)?

Start afresh today by making your relationship with God your top priority. Place Him at the center of your life. Honor Him in all that you do. Allow Him to mold and shape you. Living for God means putting ourselves in the passenger seat and allowing God full access to our lives.

Sue Allen

Leave your comments on our Facebook page

And read more from Sue at: https://sueaallen.com/